Iran warns US of interfering with oil tankers

By Ahmet Dursun

ANKARA (AA) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that intervention by the US against Iranian oil tankers sent to Venezuela will be met with retaliation.

"Any ‘pirate-like’ action by the US Navy against the Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela would trigger a harsh response,” said Rouhani, according to Iran’s Nour News Agency.

The Iranian leader said Tehran does not want conflict, but will not stand idle in the face of threats to its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"We hope Americans won't make any mistakes," he said.

Before making those comments, Rouhani spoke with Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Tamim bin Hamed al Thani, according to a written statement from the Iranian presidential office.

The two men discussed bilateral cooperation and the need to strengthen them.

Al-Thani stressed the importance of cooperation among countries in the region. "As countries of the region, we need to collaborate in safety of our waterways. We are against conflict, and will do everything in our power to reduce tension," he said.

He said economic relations with Iran is important for Qatar.

-Iranian tanker will arrive in Venezuela tomorrow

Iranian state television said the first oil tanker is expected to arrive in Venezuela Sunday.

Four other tankers, "Forest", "Faxon", "Petunia" and "Clavel" will follow in coming days and each will carry 1,500 barrels of oil.

-Claims of possible intervention by US to trade between Venezuela and Iran

Venezuela has one of the biggest oil reserves in the world but it cannot properly use its oil refineries because of sanctions and it struggles to sell the oil it produces.

Venezuelan defense ministry said Wednesday that military planes will escort the tankers carrying the much-needed fuel to the Latin American nation in defiance of US sanctions against both nations’ oil exports.

The shipments were dispatched on the request of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The tankers embarked on the long journey to Venezuela from Iran’s coastal city of Bandar Abbas in the Persian Gulf region and traveled around the Arabian Peninsula through the Suez Canal before entering the Mediterranean Sea, according to data gathered from the ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS), which helps in tracking the movement of vessels.

Networking between Tehran and Caracas, however, has not gone well because Washington reportedly deployed a fleet of warships to Caribbean waters.

A senior official in Washington said last week that the US was considering measures in response to Iran’s shipment to Venezuela.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry warned the US against what Tehran characterized as "foolish action" against Iranian oil tankers and stressed there are no legal restrictions to trade between Iran and Venezuela.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also sent a letter to the UN chief describing the US’ warnings as "illegal, dangerous and provocative threats" and said any action would be deemed "piracy" and a "great threat" to international peace and security.

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By Handan Kazanci

ANKARA (AA) - Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.

- Coronavirus in Turkey

Turkey on Thursday confirmed 926 additional recoveries as the country began easing measures against the novel coronavirus, according to the country’s health minister.

The total number of recoveries from the disease hit 131,778 as 926 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data.

The country's death toll from the outbreak rose to 4,630 as Turkey reported 21 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Turkey conducted over 54,000 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to more than 2.2 million, said Koca.

Meanwhile, Turkey plans to resume international flights to 40 countries gradually as of June 10, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said Thursday.

International flights from Turkey will carry passengers first to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar and Greece, Karaismailoglu said in a statement.

Turkey suspended all international flights on March 28 amid COVID-19-related travel restrictions worldwide.

- Global coronavirus developments

A low death toll was once again recorded Thursday as France recovers from the coronavirus pandemic which plagued the country over the last three months, according to the latest statistics reported by the Health Ministry.

The country registered a total of 46 deaths in hospitals Thursday, a drop of 39 cases over those reported Wednesday.

Italy on Thursday reported 88 more fatalities from the pandemic, bringing the death toll to 33,689 as authorities unveiled new guidelines to prevent crowded summer spots like beach resorts from becoming new virus hotbeds.

The slowing trend in the number of deaths registered in May continued in early June, confirming that the peak of the crisis has been passed.

Face masks on English public transport will be mandatory from June 15, the British government announced Thursday, as a further 176 people died from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.

British authorities announced that the UK-wide death toll from COVID-19 is now 39,904.

As Spain prepares for its state of emergency over COVID-19 to last until June 21, the Health Ministry reported Thursday that 195 more people were infected with the coronavirus and five more had died.

The number of infections diagnosed Wednesday was down slightly from the 219 people who tested positive Tuesday but up from Monday and Sunday. In total, 240,660 infections have been confirmed in the country.

Health officials in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza announced Thursday the arrival of medical supplies sent by Turkey to help fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra confirmed that two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines had been delivered for detecting the virus.

- George Floyd Memorial service

Hundreds of mourners on Thursday attended the first of several memorials for George Floyd – an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody on May 25.

The service at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota was attended by Floyd's family and Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the family, as well as celebrity guests.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday urged demonstrators joining protests over the death of George Floyd to get tested for the novel coronavirus.

Speaking at his daily press briefing, Cuomo said around 30,000 people have taken part in the statewide protests demanding justice for the killing of the unarmed black man in police custody.

Of them, 20,000 were involved in rallies in New York City.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged citizens not to overlook the racism problem in Germany while intensely discussing racism and police brutality in the US after the death of George Floyd.

"This murder of George Floyd is very, very terrible. Racism is something terrible,” Merkel said Thursday evening in an exclusive interview with public broadcaster ZDF.

“Racism has always been present, but sadly we also have this [problem]. We should first sweep in front of our own door,” she stressed.

- Other developments

Turkey and Libya plan to advance cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, including exploration and drilling activities, to further benefit from natural resources, Turkey’s president said in a meeting with Libya’s prime minister Thursday.

The meeting between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj took place at the presidential palace in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Erdogan said Turkey and Libya have reached a consensus on expanding their cooperation areas on the territory of Libya.

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